Thursday, May 15, 2008


ITEM! Let’s talk logos, pilgrims and pilgrettes! How ‘bout more info on the history of the Spider-man logo than you can shake a web-shooter at? With a lot of help from Irving Forbush (and enough over-the-counter memory-enhancing pharmaceuticals to make monkeys recite Macbeth), I’ve assembled an action-packed arachna-anthology to appease even the most assuaged apocryphal appetite. 

In the beginning, there once was a little Spiderman (no hyphen) that tried to spin a little web under the creative auspices of legendary Kirby-collaborator Joltin’ Joe Simon. Circa 1953 or so, Joe came up with an idea for a new hero initially called Spiderman. Deciding later that there were too many “name-that-animal”-man characters on the market, Joe later changed the name to The Silver Spider — but not before creating a Spiderman logo (pictured above)... the self same logo that Jolly Jack Kirby would later drag into my office in 1962 along with “his” idea for a new long underwear character by the very same name!

Most Frantic Ones know the next bit of our story. I liked the idea, but my publisher uncle-in-law Martin Goodman didn’t. Jack liked his version of the character (more-than-a-little-loosely-based on both Simon’s original idea and the subsequent Simon & Kirby Fly character done for a competitor), but I didn’t. I gave it to Sturdy Steve Ditko to do over in a more original spider-vein, and decided to sneak it into the struggling Amazing Adult Fantasy book. We went through several logo iterations at this point. Check out Ditko’s never-before-seen original logo that’s sitting underneath it’s paste-up replacement on the first page of the Amazing Fantasy #15 original art (now residing snugly at the Library of Congress, natch)! Ditko’s first logo attempt (still without a hyphen, as was the case several times in that story’s dialogue) was interesting, but your Uncle Stanley thought it was too busy and a little too horsey. 

Sol Brodsky and Johnny Dee (né Jon D’Agostino) came up with a couple of alternatives that we ended up using. Ditko’s page-one logo was replaced with the fancier of the two, and we used that same logo on Ditko’s original cover art before I had Kirby redo the cover (we redid a lot of things back in those days, pilgrims — Taskmaster Stan). We finally ended up using Sol’s plainer, blockier Spider-man logo on the published cover of AF #15.

Sol’s logo was the official one for a brief period — you can see various versions of it at the top of most of the splash pages of Spidey stories commissioned for Amazing Fantasy (before it was cancelled) that ended up being published about a year later in The Amazing Spider-man #1 and #2. We tried to fancy it up with a Spidey-signal and some webs... but your Uncle Stanley still wasn’t satisfied. 

I wish I could tell yah exactly who it was that designed the final logo, but my daily dosage of St. John’s Wort has just about worn off and I’m drawing a big blank. I remember that we had it all cockeyed on Spidey #1 but got it nicely finalized on #2 as part of giving the whole Marvel Comics line a much-needed identity make-over. From then until now some version of that same logo has graced the cover of every ish of Spidey from the Lee-Ditko days all the way up to Dashin’ Danny Slot in 2008! That’s 559 issues of walloping webbed-up wonderment, Tiger! And now, as Paul Harvey says, “you know the nest of the story!”


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